Rev. Monsignor Anselm Nwaorgu, Ph.D
(The Duty to Forgive Continues)
To forgive is the only way to acknowledge that we are also sinners and not free from having hurt others and God. In 2 Samuel 12:1-9, we read the story of King David who in his lust for Beersheba, the wife of Uriah had killed Uriah to hide the fact that he had gotten Beersheba pregnant. Then Nathan the prophet confronted David with the story of a man who had taken and killed the only sheep his neighbor, a poor man, had to entertain his guest in spite of the fact that he had many more himself than the poor man. King David immediately declared that the man who had done this must be put to death. Then, Nathan told him, “You are the man”. We must never forget that when judging others, “you are [also] the man”.
Yes your hurt is real and it hurts so badly! Yes, you did nothing to deserve it; it was a wicked act, and the one who hurt you may not be able to make it right again. Yet, holding onto your hurt, living with a vindictive spirit—angry, bitter, vengeful—only poisons your life not the life of your enemy. You are the one who gets hurt physically, emotionally, spiritually and eternally. It is not worth it. Nobody is worth your eternal life (Ref: Sirarch 28:1-2; Matthew 18:22ff). Scripture says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. Your salvation is worth more than your hurt. We are meant for heaven. Do not let unforgiveness deprive you of this blessing. No unforgiving spirit shall see God, says the word of God.
Let us consider some pathways to follow when it comes to forgiving others so as to avoid the dangerous pitfall that unforgiveness presents to our salvation.
1. We must find it in our heart to forgive in response to a humble and contrite heart; that is to say, when someone asks for our forgiveness you must forgive. Not to forgive in this case presents a very dangerous twist in our relationship with God (Ref Matt 18:21-35).
How about when people do not show contrition nor ask for forgiveness?
2. We must find it in our heart to forgive to show the depth of our love for God and our desire to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. The Bible says: “Love your enemies and do good to them, then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked (Luke 6:27-36).
3. If this is too hard for you to follow, then forgive for your own sake. The book of Sirarch 28:1-2 says: “The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance; indeed he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor the wrong done to you; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” If the Lord were to remember all our sins in detail, none will fare well when it comes to eternal salvation. Nobody is worth your eternal destiny. No one should send you to hell. Scripture says: “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
4. Forgive because you are a sinner; “You are the man”. No one is willing to cast the first stone. There is nothing that has been done to you that you have not, in some way or another, done to others or at least to God. The Bible says: “Can one refuse mercy to a sinner like oneself, yet seek pardon for one’s own sins? (Sirarch 28:4). In Luke 6:32-33 we read: “You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Now throw him into jail, sell everything that he has, until he has paid the last penny”.
My dear friends, unforgiveness is too heavy a burden to carry and too much of a risk for the salvation of our souls. No one is worth the loss of your soul. Moreover, without forgiveness, prayers are never heard by God (Ref Matthew 5:23-24). Without forgiveness, we are not forgiven as the Bible says: ”If a mere mortal [like you] cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins?” (Sirarch 28:5) and in Matthew 6:14-15 it says: But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your own sins”. It is not just that without forgiveness we are not forgiven, but also without forgiveness, previous forgiveness from the Lord is cancelled and taken away and held against us. We see this in the story of the unforgiving servant where the master withdrew his previous forgiveness and gave him the maximum punishment and Christ concludes: “This is exactly how my Father will deal with you if you each do not forgive one another” (Matthew 18:36).
In my opinion, the day to forgive is today for we neither know the day nor the hour the Lord may call us home. We don’t want this matter to be too late; we don’t want this matter to cause the loss of eternal salvation for that would be the greatest injustice to the self. We should never let anyone hurt us on earth and then make us hurt ourselves eternally. We need to stay away from the smoking section of eternity and the one way to do that is to forgive and to do so now. May the good Lord grant us the grace of a forgiving spirit for that is what He wants of us, Amen!